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4.1.3.The comparative als/dan/van-phrase
quickinfo

The equative degree of the adjective can be supplemented with an als-phrase that expresses the comparison set (the entities involved in the comparison). Similarly, the comparative degree of the adjective can be supplemented with a dan/als-phrase, and the superlative can be supplemented by means of a van-phrase. Some examples are given in (52). The use of parentheses expresses that the als/dan/van-phrase can be omitted if the comparison set can be determined on the basis of the linguistic or non-linguistic context.

52
a. Marie is even intelligent (als Jan).
  Marie is as intelligent   as Jan
b. Marie is slimmer (dan/als Jan).
  Marie is brighter   than Jan
c. Marie is het slimst (van de klas).
  Marie is the brightest   of the group

It is generally assumed that there are at least two types of als/dan-phrases, which are known in the generative literature as comparative deletion and comparative subdeletion constructions. These phrases are characterized by the fact that als/dan takes a clausal complement, which contains a certain type of interpretative gap. We will see that in addition to these types of als/dan-phrases, there is a third type in which als/dan takes a non-clausal complement and which does not involve any interpretative gap. We will start by briefly introducing these three types of als/dan-phrase.
      The comparative deletion construction, which is illustrated in (53), has the following properties: it contains an interpretative gap that (i) functions as a constituent of the complement of als/dan and (ii) corresponds to the constituent in the matrix clause that contains the comparative morpheme. The comparative phrase in (53a), for example, has an interpretative gap e that functions as the direct object of the verb lezen'to read' and corresponds to the direct object meer boeken'more books' of the matrix clause, which contains the comparative form meer. We will see in Subsection I that the complement of als/dan is always sentential in nature in this construction, which means that we are dealing with reduced clauses in examples such as (53b), in which the finite verb heeft is deleted under identity with the finite verb in the matrix clause.

53
Comparative Deletion
a. Jan heeft meer boeken dan hij [e] gelezen heeft.
  Jan has  more books  than  he  read  has
b. Jan heeft meer boeken dan Marie [e] heeft

The comparative subdeletion construction is illustrated in (54). It is generally assumed that phrases of this type contain an interpretative gap that in a sense corresponds to the comparative morpheme. One reason for this is that, just like the comparative form meer, the postulated empty element blocks the insertion of degree modifiers like veel'many'; cf. Jan heeft meer boeken dan Marie (*veel) CDs heeft and Jan heeft meer boeken dan (*veel) CDs.

54
Comparative subdeletion
a. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan Marie [[e] CDs] heeft.
  Jan has   more books  than  Marie  CDs  has
b. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan [[e] CDs].
  Jan has   more books  than CDs

The third type, in which als/dan takes a non-clausal complement and which does not involve any interpretative gap, is illustrated in (55).

55
a. Jan heeft meer boeken gelezen dan alleen Oorlog en vrede.
  Jan has  more books  read  than  just  War and Peace
  'Jan has read books than just War and Peace.'

      This section will discuss the internal structure of the comparative als/dan/van-phrases more extensively, subsection I starts with a discussion of the comparative deletion construction, which is followed in Subsection II by a discussion of the comparative subdeletion construction, subsection III will discuss constructions of the type in (55). We will conclude the discussion in Subsections IV and V, with a number of comments on the categorial status of the elements als/dan and the placement of the comparative als/dan/van-phrases. We will not be able to do justice here to the ever growing body of literature on the internal structure of als/dan/van-phrases, but fortunately we can refer the reader to Corverʼs (2006) review of some of the major contributions to the discussion of this topic.

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[+]  I.  Comparative deletion construction

This subsection discusses the internal structure of comparative als/dan-phrases in comparative deletion constructions. The first subsection argues that van and als/dan differ in that the former is a regular preposition that takes a noun phrase as its complement, whereas the latter are special in that they take a clause as their complement. The second subsection shows that the clause can be reduced in the sense that any element can be omitted from it as long as it is identical to some element in the clause containing the equative/comparative phrase. However, the reduced clause contains one constituent that can never be spelled out overtly, namely the constituent that corresponds to the constituent in the matrix clause that contains the comparative morpheme. The third subsection briefly discusses the nature of this constituent.

[+]  A.  The complement of comparative als/dan/van-phrases

Consider again the examples in (52), repeated here as (56). We will see later that the comparative van-phrase van de klas (56c) functions as a regular PP headed by van, which takes the noun phrase de klas as its complement. There are reasons, however, to assume that the als/dan-phrases in (56a&b) cannot be analyzed as regular PPs with noun phrase complements.

56
a. Marie is even intelligent (als Jan).
  Marie is as intelligent   as Jan
b. Marie is slimmer (dan/als Jan).
  Marie is brighter   than Jan
c. Marie is het slimst (van de klas).
  Marie is the brightest   of the group

If we assume that dan and als in (56a&b) are prepositions that take the noun phrase Jan as their complement, we would expect them to assign objective case to it. The examples in (57) show, however, that his expectation is not borne out and that the case of the noun phrase instead depends on the noun phrase to which it is compared; the noun phrase in the als/dan-phrase receives nominative case if it is compared to the nominative argument in the matrix clause, whereas it receives accusative case if it is compared to the accusative argument in the main clause.

57
a. Zijnom is even intelligent als hijnom.
  she  is as intelligent  as  he
a'. Zijnom is slimmer dan/als hijnom.
  she  is brighter  than  he
b. Ik vind haaracc even intelligent als hemacc.
  consider  her  as intelligent  as  him
b'. Ik vind haaracc slimmer dan/als hemacc.
  consider  her  brighter  than  him

The examples in (57) therefore show that Standard Dutch als and dan differ from their English counterparts as and than in that they normally do not assign objective case to the noun phrase following them. It should be noted, however, that there are certain varieties of Dutch that are like English in allowing object pronouns in the (a)-examples of (57), but these are normally stigmatized as substandard or abusive language use; cf. taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/355/, and the references given there. Note that substituting a subject pronoun for the object pronoun in the (b)-examples in (57) is never possible. This is illustrated by the examples in (58).

58
a. % Zijnom is even intelligent als hemacc.
  she  is as intelligent  as  him
a'. % Zijnom is slimmer dan/als hemacc.
  she  is brighter  than  him
b. * Ik vind haaracc even intelligent als hijnom.
  consider  her  as intelligent  as  he
b'. * Ik vind haaracc slimmer dan/als hijnom.
  consider  her  brighter  than  he

Given that nominative case is normally restricted to subjects of finite clauses, the fact that the pronouns in the (a)-examples of (57) have the nominative form strongly suggests that the complement of als and dan is clausal in nature. That the complement can be clausal in nature is also clear from the examples in (59), which feature a finite verb in the complement of als/dan. For completeness’ sake, note that the subject pronouns in the (a)-examples in (59) cannot be replaced by an object pronoun in any variety of Dutch.

59
a. Zijnom is even intelligent als hijnom is.
  she  is as intelligent  as  he  is
a'. Zijnom is slimmer dan/als hijnom is.
  she  is brighter  than  he  is
b. Ik vind haaracc even intelligent als ik hemacc vind.
  consider  her  as intelligent  as  him consider
b'. Ik vind haaracc slimmer dan/als ik hemacc vind.
  consider  her  brighter  than  him  consider

The fact that the subject pronoun can also be used in the (a)-examples in (57) can now be accounted for by assuming that these examples are derived from the (a)-examples in (59) by deletion of the finite verb under identity with the finite verb of the main clause. Similarly, the (b)-examples in (57) can be derived from the (b)-examples in (59) by deletion of the finite verb and the subject under identity with the finite verb and the subject of the main clause. That identity is required for deletion is clear from the difference in acceptability between the (b)-examples in (58) and the examples in (60); the ungrammatical (b)-examples in (58) cannot be derived from the acceptable examples in (60) by deletion of the copular given that it is not identical to the finite verb of the main clause.

60
a. Ik vind haaracc even intelligent als hijnom is.
  consider  her  as intelligent  as  he  is
b. Ik vind haaracc slimmer dan/als hijnom is.
  consider  her  brighter  than  he  is

Note, finally, that although the examples in (59) are certainly acceptable, they are marked compared to those in (57). This suggests that deletion is preferred whenever that is an option.
      From the discussion in this subsection, we can conclude that the complement of als/dan is normally clausal in nature in the comparative deletion construction. This does not, however, hold for the complement of the comparative van-phrase in superlative constructions; the complement of van is always assigned objective case and never contains a finite verb. This shows that the van-PP is just a regular PP consisting of a preposition that takes a noun phrase as its complement.

61
a. Marie is het slimste van ons/*wij allemaal
  Marie is the smartest  of  us/we  all
b. Marie is het slimste van de klas (*is)
  Marie is the smartest  of the group     is
[+]  B.  The reduced clause in als/dan-phrases

It seems that there are few restrictions on the reduction of the clausal complement of als/dan apart from the one we have already established in Subsection A, that the omitted content must be recoverable under identity with some element in the matrix clause containing the comparative. For example, in (57) everything but the logical subject of the AP is deleted from the complement clause. But the examples in (62) show that the remaining part may also perform other functions. In (62a) the comparative meer'more' functions as a clausal adverb of degree, and in the comparative dan-phrase everything except the noun phrase that corresponds to the direct object of the main clause is omitted. In (62b) meer functions as a direct object and in the comparative phrase everything except the noun phrase that corresponds to the indirect object is omitted. In (62c), everything is deleted apart from the PP-complement of the adjective; (62d), finally, shows that an entire object clause can be omitted.

62
a. Ik bewonder Jan meer dan Peter.
  admire  Jan more  than Peter
b. Dit bedrijf discrimineert en betaalt mannen meer dan vrouwen.
  this company  discriminates  and  pays  men  more than women
c. Jan is meer gesteld op rundvlees dan/als op varkensvlees.
  Jan is more keen  on beef   than  on pork
  'Jan is keener on beef than on pork.'
d. De gang is breder dan ik dacht (dat hij was).
  the hall  is wider  than  I thought   that he was

Despite the fact that there are few restrictions on the reduction, it is clear that one element can never be overtly expressed in the als/dan-phrases discussed so far, namely the adjective that corresponds to the adjective in the equative/comparative form in the matrix clause. The examples in (63) show this for the counterparts of the examples in (57), in which the element in the comparison set corresponds to the subject of the AP, and those in (64) do so for the counterparts of the more miscellaneous cases in (62), subsection C will discuss the nature of this obligatorily suppressed element.

63
a. Zijnom is even intelligent als hijnom (*intelligent) is.
  she  is as intelligent  as  he    intelligent  is
a'. Zijnom is slimmer dan/als hijnom (*slim) is.
  she  is brighter  than  he   bright  is
b. Ik vind haaracc even intelligent als ik hemacc (*intelligent) vind.
  consider  her  as intelligent  as  him consider
b'. Ik vind haaracc slimmer dan/als ik hemacc (*slim) vind.
  consider  her  brighter  than  him   bright  consider
64
a. Ik bewonder Jan meer dan ik Peter (*erg) bewonder.
  admire  Jan more  than Peter much  admire
b. Dit bedrijf betaalt mannen meer dan het vrouwen (*veel) betaalt.
  this company  pays  men  more than  it  women  much  pays
c. Jan is meer gesteld op rundvlees dan/als hij op varkensvlees (*gesteld) is.
  Jan is more keen  on beef  than  he  on pork      keen  is
  'Jan is keener on beef than on pork.'
d. De gang is breder dan ik dacht dat hij (*breed) was.
  the hall  is wider  than I thought  that  he  was
[+]  C.  The nature of the interpretative gap

The nature of interpretative gap has been the topic of a long-lasting and still on-going debate; cf. Corver (2006) for an overview. Probably the most influential proposal is the one in Chomsky (1977), according to which the interpretative gap arises as result of wh-movement, and subsequent deletion of the moved phrase under identity with the adjective in the matrix clause (in the same way as relative pronouns in English relative constructions such as the man (whoi) I met ti yesterday can be omitted).
      One reason for claiming this is that comparative deletion seems unbounded in the same sense that wh-movement is. We have already seen one instance of this in (64d), repeated here in a slightly different form as (65a), in which the interpretative gap is found in a more deeply embedded clause. For completeness’ sake, (65b) provides the corresponding example with wh-movement for comparison.

65
a. De gang is breder dan [ik dacht [dat hij [e] was]].
  the hall  is wider  than   I  thought   that  he  was
b. Hoe breedi denk je dat de gang ti is?
  how wide  think  you  that  the hall  is

If comparative deletion does in fact involve wh-movement, we predict that examples such as (65a) are possible if the embedded clause is the complement of a so-called bridge verb like denken'to think', but not if it is the complement of a non-bridge verb like betwisten'to contest'. Example (66a) shows that this prediction is indeed correct; (66b) again provides the corresponding examples with wh-movement.

66
a. * De tafel is breder dan [ik betwistte [dat hij [e] was]].
  the table  is wider  than   I  disputed   that  he  was
b. * Hoe breed betwistte je dat de gang ti is?
  how wide  disputed  you  that  the hall  is

A second reason for assuming that comparative deletion involves wh-movement is that it cannot occur in so-called islands for extraction. We illustrate this by means of the (b)-examples in (67), which show that comparative deletion cannot apply to the complement of a PP, just as wh-movement of the complement of a PP is excluded. Example (67a) just serves to show that examples of comparable complexity in which the interpretative gap serves as direct object are fully acceptable.

67
a. Els heeft meer boeken gerecenseerd dan Jan [e] gelezen heeft.
  Els has  more books  reviewed  than  Jan  read  has
  'Els has reviewed more books than Jan has read.'
b. * Els heeft over meer boeken geschreven dan Jan [PP naar [e]] gekeken heeft.
  Els has  about more books written  than Jan  at  looked  has
b'. * Hoeveel boekeni heeft Jan [PP naar ti ] gekeken?
  how.many books  has  Jan  at   looked

The fact that the wh-movement approach can account for the unacceptability of (65b) and (67b) by means of independently motivated constraints is generally seen as strong support for Chomskyʼs (1977) proposal. We refer the reader to Section V11.3.5 for more detailed discussion.

[+]  II.  Comparative subdeletion

This subsection discusses the internal structure of the comparative als/dan-phrase in comparative subdeletion constructions such as (68).

68
a. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan Marie [[e] CDs] heeft.
  Jan has   more books  than  Marie  CDs  has
a'. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan [[e] CDs].
  Jan has   more books  than CDs
b. Deze tafel is even lang als die tafel [[e] breed] is.
  this table  is as long  as  that table  wide is
b'. Deze tafel is even lang als [[e] breed].
  this table  is as long  as  wide

It is generally assumed that constructions like these involve an interpretative gap that in a sense corresponds to the morpheme expressing the comparison in the matrix clause. One reason for assuming this is that, just like the comparative morpheme meer, the postulated empty element in the (a)-examples blocks the insertion of quantifiers like veel'many'. Similarly, the empty element in the (b)-examples blocks the insertion of measure phrases like anderhalve meter'one and a half meter', just like the equative morpheme even.

69
a. * Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan Marie [veel CDs] heeft.
  Jan has   more books  than  Marie   many CDs  has
a'. * Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan [veel CDs].
  Jan has   more books  than   many  CDs
b. * Deze tafel is [even lang] als die tafel [anderhalve meter breed] is.
  this table  is  as long  as  that table   one.and.a.half meter  wide  is
b'. * Deze tafel is [even lang] als [anderhalve meter breed].
  this table  is  as long  as   one.and.a.half meter  wide

Given that Section 4.3 will argue that comparison and degree modification have much in common, it does not really come as a surprise that the empty element has been identified as a degree phrase; cf. Bresnan (1973). Given that it will be easier for what follows to represent this phonetically empty degree phrase by means of the Greek capital Δ, we will assign the examples in (68) the structures in (70).

70
a. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan Marie [ΔCDs] heeft.
a'. Jan heeft [meer boeken] dan [Δ CDs].
b. Deze tafel is [even lang] als die tafel [Δ breed] is.
b'. Deze tafel is [even lang] als [Δ breed].
[+]  A.  Support for the postulation of an empty degree phrase Δ

Bresnanʼs proposal can be supported by appealing to the fact that quantitative er can be used in comparative subdeletion contexts. Quantitative er is normally used in contexts like (71), in which it licenses a phonetically empty nominal projection [ e]; in this case the content of the empty noun is determined by the nominal phrase (mooie) boeken in the first conjunct. Quantitative er requires that the empty nominal projection be preceded by a weak quantifier or a cardinal number; (71a) becomes completely unacceptable if the quantifier veel is dropped. This means that if the occurrence of er in (71b) is also quantitative, we have independent evidence in favor of the empty degree phrase Δ postulated; cf. Bennis (1977).

71
a. Jan heeft weinig (mooie) boeken maar Marie heeft er [veel [e]].
  Jan has  few beautiful books  but  Marie has  er   many
b. Ik heb meer boeken dan jij er [Δ [e]] hebt.
  have  more books  than  you  er  have

There is actually little doubt that we are dealing with quantitative er in (71b). Example (72a) shows that the empty nominal projection cannot be associated with a non-count noun. The fact that (72b) is also unacceptable therefore unambiguously shows that we are dealing with quantitative er.

72
a. * Jan heeft veel geld maar Piet heeft er [weinig [e]].
  Jan has  much money  but  Piet has  er   little
b. * Ik heb meer geld dan jij er [Δ [e]] hebt.
  have  more money  than  you  er  have

Furthermore, the primeless examples in (73) show that the empty nominal projection can be combined with postnominal modifiers but not with prenominal attributive adjectives; the contrast between the two primed examples again supports the claim that we are dealing with quantitative er.

73
a. Jan heeft veel boeken over muziek en ik heb er [veel [e] over wijn].
  Jan has  many books about music  and  have  er   many   about wine
a'. Jan heeft meer boeken over muziek dan ik er [Δ [e] over wijn] heb.
  Jan has  more books about music  than I er  about wine  have
b. * Jan heeft veel blauwe knikkers en ik heb er [veel groene [e]].
  Jan has  many blue marbles  and  have  er  many green
b'. * Jan heeft meer blauwe knikkers dan ik er [Δ groene [e]] heb.
  Jan has  more blue marbles  than  er  green  have
[+]  B.  The nature of the interpretative gap

Section 4.1.3, sub IC, has shown that there are reasons for assuming that the interpretative gap in the comparative deletion construction is the result of wh-movement and subsequent deletion of the moved phrase. If this is correct, we might expect that the comparative subdeletion construction would likewise involve wh-movement, but this subsection will show that this does not seem to be borne out, and that the distribution of the interpretative gap Δ differs considerably from that of wh-phrases. One way in which the distributions of the interpretative gap and wh-phrases differ is illustrated in (74) and (75). The (a)-examples in (74) show that wh-movement of interrogative quantifiers like hoeveel'how many' obligatorily pied-pipes the remainder of the modified noun phrase; extraction of the quantifier from the noun phrase leads to an ungrammatical result. The fact that the interpretative gap indicated by Δ in (74b) occupies the same position as the wh-trace in (74a') therefore suggests that wh-movement is not involved in this example.

74
a. [Hoeveel boeken]i heb jij ti?
  how.many books  have  you
  Intended reading: 'How many books do you have?'
a'. * Hoeveeli heb jij [ti boeken]?
  how.many  have  you  books
b. Els heeft meer CDs dan jij [Δ boeken] hebt.
  Els has  more CDs than  you  books  have
  'Els has more CDs than you have books.'

The examples in (75) show something similar for intensifiers of APs. The (a)-examples show that wh-extraction of the interrogative intensifier hoe'how' from the AP is excluded: wh-movement must pied-pipe the full AP. The fact that the interpretative gap in (75b) occupies the same position as the wh-trace in (75a') again suggests that wh-movement is not involved in the comparative subdeletion construction. We refer the reader to 65b) and (67b) by means of independently motivated constraints is generally seen as strong support for Chomskyʼs (1977) proposal. We refer the reader to Section V11.3.5 for more detailed discussion.

75
a. [Hoe breed]i is die tafel ti ?
  how wide  is that table
a'. * Hoei is die tafel [ti breed]?
  how  is that table  wide
b. Deze tafel is even lang als die kast breed] is.
  this table  is as long  as  that cupboard  wide  is
  'This table is as long as that cupboard is wide.'

More evidence for the conclusion that comparative deletion and comparative subdeletion differ with respect to the involvement of wh-movement can be found in (76) and (77). The examples in (76) show that PPs are absolute islands for wh-movement, which is clear from the fact that example (76b) is just as unacceptable as example (76c) with subextraction.

76
a. Met hoeveel meisjes heb je gedanst?
  with  how.many girls  have  you  danced
  'With how many girls did you dance?'
b. * Hoeveel meisjesi heb je [PP met/mee ti] gedanst?
c. * Hoeveeli heb je [PP met/mee [ti meisjes]] gedanst?

Example (77a) shows that having an interpretative gap in the same position as the wh-trace in (76b) gives rise to an unacceptable result, which supports the earlier conclusion that comparative deletion involves wh-movement; cf. also the discussion of the (b)-examples in (67). Example (77b), on the other hand, shows that having an interpretative gap in the position of the wh-trace in (76c) is possible, and this again suggests that wh-movement is not involved in comparative subdeletion.

77
a. * Jan heeft met meer meisjes gekletst dan hij [met/mee [e]] gedanst heeft.
  Jan has  with more girls  chattered  than  he   with  danced  has
  Intended reading: 'Jan spoke to more girls than he danced with.'
b. Jan heeft met meer jongens gekletst dan hij [met [Δ meisjes]] gedanst heeft.
  Jan has with more boys chattered  than  he with  girls danced  has
  Intended reading: 'Jan spoke to more boys than he danced with girls.'

      Another difference between comparative deletion and comparative subdeletion constructions that points in the same direction is that the comparative deletion construction may contain at most one interpretative gap, whereas the comparative subdeletion construction may contain multiple interpretative gaps. Consider the examples in (78).

78
Jan verkocht in één dag meer vrouwen meer stropdassen...
  Jan sold  in one week  more women  more neckties
a. ... dan Marie [Δ mannen] [Δ lipsticks] in een week verkocht.
  ... than  Marie  men  lipsticks  in a week  sold
  'Jan sold more women more neckties in one day than Marie sold men lipsticks in a week.'
b. * ... dan Marie [e] [e] in een week verkocht.
  ... than  Marie  in a week  sold

It seems that example (78a) is fully acceptable, despite the fact that the meaning expressed is rather complicated in that there are two things claimed at the same time: (i) the number of women that were sold neckties exceeds the number of men that were sold lipsticks and (ii) the number of neckties sold to women exceeds the number of lipsticks sold to men. Examples such as (78b), on the other hand, have been claimed to be unacceptable, and it indeed seems very hard to simultaneously assign an intelligible interpretation to the two gaps in the structure. Given that it is not possible in Dutch to place more than one wh-phrase in clause-initial position, the indicated contrast between (78a) and (78b) would follow from the proposal so far: comparative deletion involves wh-movement and, consequently, there can be at most one interpretative gap, whereas comparative subdeletion does not involve wh-movement and consequently there can be multiple gaps; see Corver (1990/2006) for more extensive discussion.
      The discussion above strongly suggests that the process involved in comparative subdeletion is less restricted than that in comparative deletion. This does not mean, however, that comparative subdeletion is completely free. For example, whereas comparative subdeletion is acceptable with the predicatively used APs in (75b) or (79a), it is excluded with the attributively used APs in (79b).

79
a. Jans tafel is even lang als Peters kast breed] is.
  Janʼs table  is as long  as  Peterʼs cupboard  wide  is
  'Janʼs table is as long as Peterʼs cupboard is wide.'
b. * Jan heeft een even lange tafel als Peter [een [Δ brede] kast]] heeft.
  Jan has  an as long table  as  Peter  a  wide  cupboard  has
[+]  C.  Complement of the als/dan-phrase

The previous subsection has shown that there are reasons for assuming that comparative deletion and comparative subdeletion cannot be given the same analysis: whereas the former arguably involves wh-movement, the latter most likely does not. This in turn may have consequences for the analysis of the complement of the als/dan-phrase. If comparative deletion indeed involves wh-movement, it follows automatically that (as argued in Section 4.1.3, sub IA) the complement of als/dan is clausal, given that the target of wh-movement is the clause-initial position. If comparative subdeletion does not involve wh-movement, the complement of the als/dan-phrase may but need not be clausal. The fact that the complement can be clausal in the comparative subdeletion construction needs little argumentation, given that we have seen several unambiguous instances of this in the earlier discussion. This suggests that just as in the case of comparative deletion, the primeless examples in (80) can readily be derived from the primed examples by means of deletion of those parts that are recoverable from the matrix clause.

80
a. Jan heeft meer CDs dan boeken.
  Jan has  more CDs than books
a'. Jan heeft meer CDs dan hij boeken] heeft.
  Jan has  more CDs  than  he  books  has
b. De tafel is even lang als breed.
  the table  is as long as  wide
b'. De tafel is even lang als hij breed] is.
  the table  is as long as  he  wide  is

It is less clear whether the complement of als/dan can be non-clausal, but it seems that we have to keep this possibility open, as subsection III will show that the complement of the als/dan-phrase need not be clausal.

[+]  III.  Als/dan-phrases without comparative (sub)deletion

The third construction, illustrated in (81a&b), differs from comparative (sub)deletion in that the comparative als/dan-phrase does not contain an interpretative gap, that is, there is no implicit degree phrase Δ. That the complement is not clausal in this case is strongly suggested by the unacceptability of the primed examples, from which the primeless examples should then have been derived. The unacceptability of the doubly-primed examples also points in that direction.

81
a. Jan heeft meer (boeken) gelezen dan Eline Vere.
  Jan has  more books  read  than  Eline Vere
a'. * Jan heeft meer (boeken) gelezen dan hij Eline Vere gelezen heeft.
  Jan has  more books  read  than  he  Eline Vere  read  has
a''. * Jan heeft meer (boeken) gelezen dan Marie Eline Vere (gelezen heeft).
  Jan has  more books  read  than Marie  Eline Vere   read  has
b. Jan verdient meer (?geld) dan 100 Euro.
  Jan earns  more  money than 100 euro
b'. * Jan verdient meer dan hij 100 euro verdient.
  Jan earns  more  than  he  100 euro  earns
b''. * Jan verdient meer dan Marie 100 euro (verdient).
  Jan earns  more  than  Marie  100 euro  earns

      Constructions of the type in (81a&b) can sometimes be easily confused with comparative (sub)deletion constructions. Examples are given in (82a&b). Example (82a) involves a comparative deletion construction: we are dealing with a clausal complement with an interpretative gap that arises from wh-movement and subsequent deletion of the moved element under identity with the phrase containing the comparative. In (82b), on the other hand, we are dealing with a nominal complement in the form of a free relative clause, and the interpretative gap is a trace bound by the relative pronoun wat.

82
a. Jan verdient meer (geld) dan zijn vader vroeger verdiende.
  Jan earns  more money  than  his father  once  earned
a'. Jan verdient meer (geld) dan [S zijn vader vroeger [e] verdiende].
b. Jan verdient meer (geld) dan wat zijn vader vroeger verdiende.
  Jan earns  more money  than  what  his father  once  earned
b'. Jan verdient meer (geld) dan [NP Ø [S wati zijn vader vroeger ti verdiende]].

Given that the two examples in (82) have different structures we would expect them to differ in meaning, and Den Besten (1978) claims that this is indeed the case although this meaning difference is difficult to spell-out. Fortunately, he also provides the examples in (83) where the meaning difference is more obvious: in the comparative deletion construction in (83a) it is simply claimed that the number of guests exceeds the number of last yearʼs guests, whereas in example (83b) it is claimed that last yearʼs guests form a proper subset of the guests invited this year.

83
Jan heeft meer mensen uitgenodigd ...
  Jan has  more people  prt.-invited
a. ... dan [S hij vorig jaar [e] had uitgenodigd].
  than  he  last year  had prt.-invited
  'Jan invited more people than heʼd invited last year.'
b. ... dan [NP Ø [S die hij vorig jaar ti had uitgenodigd]].
  than  who  he  last year  had  prt.-invited
  'Jan invited more people than those he invited last year.'

The reading of (83b) resembles the reading of (81a), in which it is claimed that Eline Vere constitutes a subset of the set of books read by Jan. The fact that adjectives in the equative form are incompatible with als/dan-phrases of this sort suggests that this subset interpretation is a characteristic feature of these phrases.

84
a. * Jan heeft evenveel (boeken) gelezen als Oorlog en